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Date, Phoenix dactylifera / Palmae
The great range of date varieties can be classified in three groups depending on their maturation in the tree; they can be soft, semidry and dry.

Fresh dates are harvested after a short period of maturation (5-6 months) in the tree. They must be kept in the fridge and they are widely cultivated in Israel from where most of the European imports come. Fresh dates are also imported from California.

Among the semidry dates there is a very popular one known world-wide as "Deglet Noor" or " Date of the light". Its skin is even and bright, and it is marketed in boxes in which the fruit is joined to the rachis. The date "Medjool" has a wrinkled skin. The real dates of Tunisia and the black dates of Turkey are of superior quality, although the ones from Elche, in Spain, are also regarded as excellent dates. Other varieties with commercial importance are Zahidi, Halawi and Bardhi.

Dry dates are harvested fully ripe when the sun has already dried them in the tree. They can be preserved in good conditions for long periods of time. It is a very hard fruit that is sometimes ground for processing flour. It is also softened by means of soaking it in water before its consumption.

Among the most common varieties intended for production of dry fruit stand out the following, some of which have already been mentioned for the production of semidry dates.

"Medjoul": Chief variety of Israel, large, tender and sweet.
"Amary": Large, reddish-brown date with a high content of fibre.
"Deglet Nour": Also called Moscatel date, it is as tender as exquisite.
"Dayri: Dark brown skin. It tastes like sweets.
"Halawi: Tender and sweet. It is one of the best varieties.
"Zahidi: Not as sweet as other varieties.
"Hadrawi’: Sweet and fleshy. It resembles the variety Halawi.
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